Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Were There Guards at Jesus’ Tomb?

I’ve always been intrigued by Matthew’s account of the guards at the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 27:62-66). In this clip we have an interview by John Ankerberg of William Lane Craig on the issue. It’s interesting that Craig begins by saying this question would probably be “best left out of the program since the vast, vast majority of New Testament scholars would regard Matthew’s guard story as unhistorical.” He continues, “I can hardly think of anybody who would defend the historicity of the guard at the tomb story.”

D. A. Carson in his commentary on Matthew in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary gives five reasons in favor of the historicity of the event. (By the way, the revised edition of this commentary is slated to appear this October.  The old edition had Matthew thru Luke.  The revised edition will only be Matthew and Mark.)  On the two issues that Craig gives why some doubt the historicity of the story, it’s only recorded in Matthew and this makes it appear as if the Jewish authorities understood the resurrection predictions which from all accounts prior to the resurrection the disciples themselves did not understand, Carson explains:
“Matthew has regularly given information in the passion narrative that the other evangelists omit (e.g., 27:19, 34-35, 62-63); and it is methodologically wrong to doubt the historicity of all details that lack multiple attestation—not least because such ‘multiple attestation’ may sometimes go back to one literary source.”
“The objection that this scene is implausible because it shows the Jewish leaders believing something the disciples themselves cannot yet believe is insubstantial. They may have heard something on the content on 16:21; 17:9; 20:19 from Judas. Whatever the source of their information, they certainly do not believe Jesus prediction, they are merely afraid of fraud—a fear fostered perhaps by the report that Jesus’ body, against all judicial custom had been taken down from the cross and returned to Jesus’ disciples by Joseph and Nicodemus. This could also account for the delay in the request to post a guard (v. 64). The disciples disbelieved Jesus’ words about rising again, not because they could not understand the plan words, but because they had no frame of reference capable of integrating a dying and rising Messiah into their own messianic expectations.” (585-86)
There are a number of these clips on YouTube of John Ankerberg and William Lane Craig.  All are very short but very good.  Here's two more that are must viewing.

1 comment:

Paul D. Adams said...

The Bible says it.
I believe it.
That settles it.


In all seriousness, this is interesting.